5 Amazing Benefits of Going for a Run (and How to Get Started)

5 Amazing Benefits of Going for a Run (and How to Get Started)

Running is one of the most popular and widely practiced sports in the world. In the United States alone, almost 50 million people–that’s just under 1 in 7–participated in running or jogging activities in 2021.

It’s easy to see why running is so popular. It is accessible, cheap, and can be done almost anywhere. It is also fun and can be a sociable activity. Most importantly of all, running offers an array of impressive health benefits.

Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

Cardio exercise improves the health of your cardiovascular system, and running is one of the best forms of cardio you can do. In fact, just a small amount of running each week dramatically decreases your risk of heart disease. 

To understand how running is improving your cardiovascular health, take your resting heart rate–that’s the number of times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest. After a few weeks of regular running, take this again. You should see a noticeable decrease, which indicates a stronger heart. 

Strengthen Your Joints and Muscles

Running is a high-impact and weight bearing exercise. This means that, over time, it can strengthen your muscles and improve the health of your joints. Strong muscles and joints help you to remain fit, active, and pain-free throughout your life. 

Contrary to popular belief, running–as long as you use proper form and do not over-train–does not damage the joints. In fact, it can help to stave off issues such as arthritis. 

If you have any joint or muscular injuries or health problems, speak to your doctor or physiotherapist before taking up running to ensure that it is safe for you to do so. 

Improve Your Mood

Exercise has benefits for your mental health as well as your physical health. Running releases chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin in the body and brain, which play an important role in regulating mood. This means that regular running could reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Have More Energy and Sleep Better

You might feel tired after a good run, but your overall energy levels will increase as your fitness improves. This is because exercise helps your body to produce more mitochondria, the powerhouses that create fuel from glucose and oxygen within your cells. Exercise also boosts oxygen circulation, which helps your body to use energy more efficiently.

You may also find that regular exercise improves the quality of your sleep, which is vital for good health. If you find that you struggle to sleep after an evening run, this may be the release of endorphins at work. Try running in the morning instead. 

Enjoy Running as a Social Activity

Many people think of running as a solitary activity, but it can actually be a great way to get fit and be social at the same time. 

Why not invite your partner, a family member, or a friend to become your running buddy? You can motivate each other, chat during your walking breaks, and reward yourselves with a cup of coffee and a catch-up afterwards. Alternatively, why not join a local running club? This will give you a good reason to lace up your shoes and get out of the house at the same time every week, and you’ll make some new friends, too!

Taking part in friendly races is also a great way to enjoy the social side of running. And if you have a dog, he or she will love running alongside you.

Three Easy Steps to Get You Running

If you’ve never run before, or are coming back to it after a long break, it can be daunting to know where to start. But it’s easy to start running! That’s why we’ve broken it down into three essential steps to help you get moving. 

First, make sure you have the equipment you need. You’ll need a comfortable pair of running shoes and some suitable clothes (which need not be expensive.) You’ll also need a bottle to carry water with you. If you’re running after dusk, a headlamp can help you to stay safe. 

Second, plan your training and pace yourself. For beginners, programs like Couch to 5K help you to get started. Alternatively, you can simply start off with short runs alternating jogging and walking, gradually building up your mileage as you gain confidence and fitness.

Finally, and most importantly, just go for it! Don’t worry about how you look or how fast or slow you are, and don’t compare yourself to other runners. Each time you get back from a run, you’ll always be glad you gave yourself that push out of the door.